Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

The natural beauty of Sunnyslope, Arizona


When I moved back to Phoenix, in 1989, I spent a lot of time driving around, just looking at stuff. I did find a job, and looking back it doesn't seem like it took that long, but at the time it seemed like all I was doing was waiting. So I noodled around town, looking at stuff, and was particularly fascinated by the Sunnyslope area. It had a natural beauty that made me think.

If you're familiar with Sunnyslope, if you've known it all of your life, you may be wondering if I'm kidding here about its natural beauty. But I had just moved from California, and I was seeing it through a Californian's eyes. I'll see if I can explain.

Natural beauty, whether it's a view of the ocean, or a mountain view, is at a premium where I lived in California. I remember looking at an apartment complex and the one (1) apartment in the complex that had even the tiniest view from the patio was rented at a premium. And you had to go out onto the patio and lean out, and look past other buildings. But sure enough, you could see the ocean from there. The same thing applied to being able to see mountains. Mostly in that crowded mass of buildings and freeways called Southern California, an average person like me would never be able to afford a "view". And I thought that was a shame, as there is so much potential for enjoying the natural beauty of that place.

So when I moved to Phoenix, I got an apartment with a view on a golf course. I was pretty much living for golf in those days, and I was just tickled. I couldn't afford that in Los Angeles! And as I noodled around town I was amazed at the mountain views. The nicest area that I saw was called Arcadia, with wonderful views of the mountain, and the city. Being from Los Angeles, I knew that was where the rich people lived, up where they could look down on the city. The rich people lived on the slopes, and the poor people (like me) lived in the valleys.

But Sunnyslope surprised me. The rich people didn't live there, far from it. Those mountain views didn't bring up the property values, or increase the rent. Sunnyslope has brightened up a lot since I first drove around in it in 1989, but it's still not a place to brag about. When I first saw it, people were telling me not to stop at the Circle K.

Sunnyslope is on the southern edge of the western edge of the Phoenix Mountains, which begins just east of 19th Avenue and ends with Camelback Mountain to the east. It's all one continuous range, and if you have more energy that I do you can now hike just about all of the way from west to east. That is, from the Sunnyslope area to the Arcadia area.

Yes, in the meantime I've learned more about how one sunny slope of the Phoenix Mountains became Sunnyslope, while the other became Arcadia, but in 1989 all I saw were mountain views. Look at the mountains when you drive around, and you can see them, too.

Image at the top of this post: Sunnyslope, Arizona in the 1960s. You're looking north towards the Phoenix Mountains on Central Avenue.

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